De Minimis Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of De Minimis, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is De Minimis?

latin expression meaning “little things”. It stands for something that is not worthy of law’s attention or procedures; something that is too trivial in the eyes of law.

History and Meaning of De Minimis

De minimis refers to something that is too insignificant to be worthy of legal action or attention. The term comes from Latin, which means "little things." Laws often use this term to create exceptions for negligible issues, which would be impractical or trivial to enforce.

The concept of de minimis originated in Roman law, where it was seen as an expression of justice and fairness. It recognizes that laws should be applied with a degree of common sense and that enforcement should be proportional to the issue at hand. In modern law, the de minimis principle applies to areas such as intellectual property, taxation, and employment law.

Examples of De Minimis

  1. An employee uses the company's printer for personal use for a few pages a month. The employer deems this de minimis and chooses not to take action against the employee.
  2. A driver exceeds the speed limit by one mile per hour. The police may consider this to be de minimis and choose not to issue a ticket.
  3. A small business owner fails to report a few cents of income on their tax return. The tax authority may choose not to pursue the matter, considering it de minimis.

Legal Terms Similar to De Minimis

  1. Trivial: Issues or matters that are considered too minor to be of significance and not worthy of attention.
  2. Frivolous: A legal claim or lawsuit that lacks merit and is unlikely to succeed.
  3. Immaterial: Irrelevant or insignificant to the matter at hand.